Oil is flowing into the Dakota Access Pipeline below Lake Oahe, the main point of contention in a monthslong battle against the controversial project.
“Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service,” the company behind the project states in a status update filed late Monday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“We estimate that the line-fill process will be complete in the next several weeks, which allow us to put the Dakota Access Pipeline into service,” a spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, told VICE News. Once complete, the $3.8 billion pipeline will move up to 570,000 barrels of oil from North Dakota to Illinois.
But Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, says the fight isn’t over yet. “There is still very active litigation and we will be asking the Court to shut it back off,” she told VICE News on Tuesday.
The section of proposed pipeline under Lake Oahe drew an estimated 10,000 people to camps nearby last November. They opposed the pipeline in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who said the flow of oil under the lake threatened their water downstream.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with three other Sioux tribes is currently fighting the pipeline in U.S. District Court. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, an intervenor in the case, said in a statement Monday the pipeline “endangers waters the Tribes rely on for their very existence,” but that they are “undeterred” by Monday’s news that oil is in the pipeline under Lake Oahe.
“My people are here today because we have survived in the face of the worst kind of challenges,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement. “The fact that oil is flowing under our life-giving waters is a blow, but it hasn’t broken us. Our legal fight is very much alive and we believe that ultimately we will prevail.”
“While we are disappointed that our pleas to the court and current administration have thus far fallen on deaf ears, we remain committed to fighting the transmission of dirty fossil fuels through our territory and putting a stop to the flow of oil in this pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement.
In their court filings, the tribes allege the Army Corps of Engineers ignored federal statutes and treaties when it approved the easement under Lake Oahe at the order of U.S. President Donald Trump.